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Crime Prevention Programme in Australia

Introduction

Crime among young people is a social problem and it hampers the proper development of a society. Crime is a global evil and most of the world countries are facing the same problem of increased rate of crimes. The change in social relationship is one of the reasons for increased crime among young people. To prevent the wide spread of violence within relationships among young people in Australia, there are certain programmes, initiatives and resources that have been devised. The reason behind crime is repeated witnessing and experiencing inter parental violence which exerts a deep influence on the young people. The efforts at prevention aim to encourage respectful and equal relationship among young people.

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Moreover, it promotes non-violent strategies of intimate relationships. It is significant that family atmosphere influences the character development and behaviour of children. So, crime prevention programme of Australia can play the major role of socializing generations and generations. In the Article namely ‘Blue Mountains Crime Prevention Programme Awarded NRMA’, one can see that there are so many institutions and programmes that work for crime prevention in Australia. Insurance grant “Since its launch in 1996, the national CrimeSafe programme has provided more than $1 million to support community crime prevention projects.” (Media Releases: Blue mountains crime prevention programme awarded NRMA insurance grant, 2003).

More and more grant is provided for these programmes

Adolescence is the development stage, where the young people define their individual identity and values. There is high chance for external influence, which may be positive or negative. Moreover, the development of intimate relationships can be seen in this stage. Yvonne Korn is of the opinion that there is high chance for an individual to be misled or influenced by their peers. “Young people are falling through the cracks and there is no longer a safety net. We can see the future quite clearly for the children of tomorrow and it is not a pretty picture.” (Korn, 1997, p.6).

If the citizens of tomorrow are under bad influence, there is less scope for a better future generation. There are a lot of negative influences to mislead the youth. When these children become parents, they had to face more severe problems.

So, prevention from unhealthy relations is crucial and it helps the individual to keep away from harmful situations. According to their function, there are two types of preventive programmes- Universal and Targeted approach. The universal approach takes a broader inclusion of family, community and the target individual. The Targeted approach is more focused and is aimed to reach a selected group, i.e. high risk populations or marginalized groups in the society. Jane Mulroney makes it clear that the prevention programmes use a range of strategies to attain the goal. First of all, it is targeted at the community as a whole because the problem of violence affects the community and in the end, the society. “Primary prevention is targeted at the community as a whole and generally aims to introduce values that promote healthy relationships.” (Mulroney, 2003, p. 3).

The aim of crime prevention programme is to provide knowledge skills, challenge values and attitudes of the individual that encourage violence. There are so many crime prevention programmes that are designed to control violence and most of them are school based so that the maximum benefit can be extended to children who fall in the highest risk group.

The crime prevention programme in Australia under discussion is Whole Of School Approach (Example: “Solving the Jigsaw”, Emergency Accommodation and Support Enterprise (EASE) (VIC). It can be seen that school is the most important resource of violent prevention. This social institution helps the young people for proper socialization and moral development. The whole of school approach or method is based on school examining through curricular programmes, teaching and learning process, school policies and resources used, organisational practices and school culture. EASE is such an example for crime prevention programme in Australia which works with primary students and high school students, so as to examine violence within their relationships. The focus is on students of school because the aim of the programme is to prevent crime and not to punish the elder children for the crimes they committed. The article, A statistical picture of Australia’s Children, is of the opinion the punishment given to the juvenile criminal must not be so severe. The punishment is to exert a positive influence in the mind of the person who is suspected. “Sentences in most jurisdictions can include fines, community service, probation and other supervision and detention.” ((n.d.), A statistical picture of Australia’s children: Sentencing).

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Less severe punishments like fines, community service etc, are more suitable for children as a corrective measure. “Solving the Jigsaw”, Emergency Accommodation and Support Enterprise (EASE) (VIC) is the best example for this approach. The active participation of parents of students those who are under risk is an important aspect of this approach.The Emergency Accommodation and Support Enterprise (EASE), which is based in Bendigo, Victoria, and is a community managed organisation aiming to provide support to women and children, to prevent domestic violence, and to resolve the problems that are faced by pregnant and parenting women. The program also aims to help women who are with Alcohol and drug problems. In 1997, the work of this supportive program was extended to prevention of violence in the community through a school based program namely-“Solving the Jigsow”. The aim of this program is to prevent the serious impact on children from their exposure to domestic violence at home. Most of the young people who are indulged in violence had a past of domestic violence. So, the introduction of this program resulted in a positive change and reduction in violence among youth. By introducing this program to the school level, it supposed to break the intergenerational cycle of violence.

The program helps the students to increase the feel in of safety by providing chances to build optimism in students and parents. Most of the problems related to violence among the youth are closely related to the problem of confidence. If a person is enough confident, he/she can overcome most of the problems in life. The role of EASE is crucial in counseling provided to students and to their parents. It helps the students to develop skills in conflict resolution, assertive communication, decision making and anger management, it also promotes positive relation between students, teachers, parents and external support services. When a student face a problem in his /her own life, it may not be possible to resolve without the help of others. But most of the students hesitate to seek help from others to solve their personal problems. Later this may lead to further adjustment problems in future life. So the role of EASE in society, especially among the youth is crucial. In most of the problems related to violence and crime, it can be seen that anger and violence are closely related to each other. They influence each other and most of the time, anger overpower other emotions and cause serious crimes. So, the management of anger is important to prevent violence.

In the initial stage, the program of EASE was implemented in eight primary and secondary schools in Bendigo and surrounding rural areas. The implementation of the program to the school level was through the curriculum. There was a reference committee to control or to make sure the smooth working of the program. This committee met bimonthly and acted as a forum for dialogue between EASE, the school, and the parents. The response by the people to the project was positive and six out of eight schools expressed interest in the program. The parent support session in reference committee session covered many of the activities and issues raised in the student sessions. So, this was able to resolve the problems that are faced by the students at their home. When the students discussed their problems in these sessions, the parents were ready to take remedial measures. The Article-“Solving the Jigsow: changing the culture of violence” makes clear that the work of EASE is not limited to the help provided to the student community, another important section of this program is the parent support sessions which are able to cover so many issues which are raised in the student sessions or student contact sessions. “Alongside student groups, the project runs parent support sessions which cover many of the activities and issues raised in the student sessions. In this way, parents gain insights into the young people’s program and have an opportunity to discuss the program activities with their children.” (Solving the jigsaw changing the culture of violence: Parent support sessions, 2003).

Parents can play an important role in the implementation of the program among students. Moreover, most of the problems that are behind the violence and crime are originated at home. So, some problems which cause crime can be resolved at home itself. The opportunity provided by EASE to have direct contact with the program helps the parents to have an insight about the functioning of the program. This was so helpful to solve the physical and psychological problems of the student community. The importance of this program is that the parents gained a golden opportunity and direct involvement in the program. The other topics that are discussed in these sessions are: understanding adolescence, different styles of parenting, conflict solving, and building confidence in parenting, personal development and self esteem.

The long term aim the project is to create the opportunity for all schools to help their students to solve their personal problems by their own. The program like- “Solving the Jigsow” can help the students, parents and teachers to identify the problem and can take remedial measures to resolve the same. Moreover, this approach gives due importance on building a non-violent school culture. If the atmosphere of the school appears to instigate a tendency towards violence, this approach can resolve the problem. If the violence originates at home, the discussions on domestic violence are aimed at helping the student to solve the problem within their houses. Dr Adam Graycar points out that the change in family resulted in a behavioural change in children. The decrease in number of marriages resulted in reduced number of children in each family. “The number of married couple families as a proportion of all families has declined.” (Graycar, 1997).

Alienation within the family may cause change in behaviour and mental stress in young people. If the problem is within peer groups, the discussions within young pupils’ relationship can solve the same. It also helps the students to maintain effective interpersonal relations. There is a reference committee to monitor the whole programme. This committee is with democratic outlook because it consists of project worker, school staff, and victims of external domestic violence and service providers. There is an uninterrupted and smooth communication and collaboration with the school. Moreover, the programme concepts are integrated into the teaching and learning environment. There are training sessions for teachers to increase confidence. Due support is provided to the students those who are in need of the same. Awareness is created among parents about the impact of violence on their children. Sue Hetzel and Rosanne McInnes in their Article- Family Conferences in the Juvenile Justice System of South Australia, points out that, The role of family is important in prevention of crime. “Estimates vary, but it seems that about 70% to 80% of the victims invited to attend Family Conference do attend and participate in the Family Conference.” (Hetzel & McInnes, 1996).

When the young people who committed crime are advised to attend at Family Conference with their parents, most of them attend the same. This shows that family members are interested in the involvement of prevention of crime. Further information about the project is given to the public through news letters besides the school website.

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The advantages of the programme are:

  1. It aims at the prevention of violence/crime at the initial level (primary/high schools). S that the segment that is most prone to violence/crime are covered.
  2. The whole community/society is the part of the programme.
  3. The role of each member is well defined.
  4. There is a direct monitoring system for the programme.
  5. Feedback is collected through news letters and school website.

The positive outcome of the program can be seen in the recognizing and naming behaviors, increased self-knowledge and optimism, skills in mediations and conflict resolution, assertive communication, anger management and understanding, taking constructive actions over issues on violence.

The disadvantages of the programme are:

  1. Scope for resolving the psychological problem/stress of the student is limited.
  2. Students are considered as an instrument for experiment.
  3. Limited scope for resolving the problems of elder students.
  4. Nothing to do with criminal minded students. Sumitra Vignaendra and Jacqueline Fitzgerald points out that the rate of young people who are undergoing crime is gradually increasing. “Of the young people who received a police caution for the first time in 1999, 42 per cent reoffended within five years.” (Vignaendra & Fitzgerald, 2006). when a youth receive a police caution for the first time, the fear about police and punishment is gone forever and they become ready to commit another crime.
  5. No measures are taken to improve the family condition or standard of living of the underprivileged students.

Evaluation of the crime prevention programme Whole Of School Approach, helps one to realise that the preventive measures must be adapted from the grass root level itself. The advantages of the programme are more important than the disadvantages because the programme is a success in Australia. It is evident that implementation of crime prevention programme requires careful planning. It is to be related to the interest and taste of the student and the aim/goal is to result in a behavioural change in young people. The article, “Antisocial Behaviour Among Young Australians While Under the Influence of Illicit Drugs,” by McAllister I. and Makkai T, makes clear that the change in behaviour of young people may be due to the use of drugs like marijuana. “the importance of delaying marijuana use for as long as possible in order to reduce these behaviours.” (McAllister & Makkai, 2003).

The main reason behind the crime and behavioural change among young people is due to the negative influence of peer members of their group. The young people in Australia face the problem of violence and crime. So, there is a dire need for crime prevention programmes to be implemented in different communities. Moreover, the success of the crime prevention programme relies on the commitment to youth, family, school and community.

References

A statistical picture of Australia’s children: Sentencing. (n.d.). Australian Government: Australian Law Reform Commission. 2008. Web.

Graycar, Adam. (1997). Demographic profile of young people in Australia today: Abstract. Australian Government: Australian Institute of Criminology. 2008. Web.

Hetzel, Sue., & McInnes, Rosanne. (1996). Family conferences in the juvenile justice system of South Africa: Crimes where the individual have been the victim of offence. Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law, 3 (2). 2008. Web.

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Korn, Yvonne. (1997). Strategic directions in the prevention of youth crime: So where to from here. 6. 2008. Web.

McAllister., & Makkai. (2003). Antisocial behaviour among young Australians while under the influence of illicit drugs. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 36 (2). 2008. Web.

Media Releases: Blue mountains crime prevention programme awarded NRMA insurance grant. (2003). NRMA Insurance NSW, ACT and Tasmania. 2008. Web.

Mulroney, Jane. (2003). Australian prevention programmes for young people: Prevention strategies. Australian Domestic and Family ClearingHouse. 3. 2008. Web.

Solving the jigsaw changing the culture of violence: Parent support sessions. (2003). National Child Protection Clearing House. 11 (1). 2008. Web.

Vignaendra, Sumitra., & Fitzgerald. (2006). Reoffending among young people cautioned by police or who participated in a youth justice conference: Reoffending. NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics Research: Crime and Justice Bulletin. 2008. Web.

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